If Released, Bengals Should Pursue Haloti Ngata


Around this time of year tough roster decisions are made throughout the NFL.  Teams are looking to retain players while creating enough cap space to do make improvements to their rosters.  Annually, this creates unexpected free agents for teams with a need to pursue.

This year, the Ravens are facing some difficult decisions regarding their own cap situation.  With so little cap space to work with, about $5.2 million as of now according to Spotrac, the Ravens are searching for ways to create ample cap space to sign incoming rookies and re-sign players such as Torrey Smith, Justin Tucker, and Justin Forsett.

One player who can open significant cap space for the Ravens is Haloti Ngata.  With a cap hit of $16 million in 2015, if the Ravens can restructure his deal, they would save a substantial amount of money again the cap.  But Ngata is 31 years old, and is heading into the final stage(s) of his career.  At this age, a player of Ngata’s caliber is likely looking for one more substantial contract.  If the Ravens cannot find a way to give it to him, then Ngata would likely be released and free to work out a deal with other teams.

According to Ed Werder, Haloti Ngata believes he can play at a high level for another three years.  Confidence from a player looking to sign a new deal should bring little confidence to an investor, but at 31, Ngata’s days in the NFL aren’t over; he’s only two years removed from a stretch of five straight years that saw him make the All-Pro team and a year removed from his inclusion on the Pro Bowl team.

What is more concerning is Haloti Ngata’s suspension from this past season.  He was suspended for the final four games of the regular season due to his use of PEDs (Adderall).  The use of Adderall doesn’t necessarily mean Ngata is all of a sudden an incapable player, but it should no doubt be considered when negotiating Ngata’s acquisition.  But regardless of this suspension, if Ngata were to fit free agency, the Bengals should consider spending the necessary funds to bring him into the fold.

The Bengals have constructed one of the most talented teams in the NFL in recent years.  Yet, their defensive line, and especially it’s interior, was an issue this past season.  Because of this, the Bengals struggled to stop the run effectively, which especially hurts in the AFC North where running is prevalent.  More than this, the Bengals pass rush was severely limited this past season.  Geno Atkins spent the year working himself back into shape after having ACL surgery in the off-season; hopefully, Atkins will return to form in 2015.

But Atkins could use some help, as Domata Peko has been largely ineffective the past couple of seasons, Brandon Thompson used proven to be little more than a solid rotational run-stopper, and Devon Still never blossomed as his attention was rightfully drawn away from the field.

Haloti Ngata’s presence along the Bengals’ defensive line would be incredible.  Lining him up next to Geno Atkins would give him more than enough help along the line’s interior.  Ngata is a powerful player who’s a formidable force both against the run and pass.  Although he’s played the entirety of his career within a 3-4 defense, one can likely assume that his talent goes beyond scheme fits.  He’d likely be an incredible presence as a one-technique defensive/nose tackle, essentially replacing Domata Peko at the position.

Haloti Ngata’s presence would also give the Bengals options within the line’s depth.  There would be little need to rotate defensive ends into the middle of line, which would allow younger players such as Margus Hunt and Will Clarke to focus on their defensive end roles.  It would also allow the team to rotate Domata Peko into a reserve role, a more befitting role of him at this point in his career.  Or, the Bengals could release Peko and save $3.7 million against the cap, which could contribute to signing Ngata.  It’s an unlikely option, but if Ngata was brought into the fold, many things could change.

Haloti Ngata’s release from the Ravens is a long way away.  Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens will do anything and everything they can to keep their All-Pro lineman.  But if Ngata’s contract can’t be restructured, and if the Ravens feel they cannot properly improve their team because 0f it, the Bengals should be ready to pounce.

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